Christmas has come and gone, the paper torn off of every box under the tree, and you just scored a brand new PlayStation 4 (or Pro!). Congratulations! It is, at least in this writer’s humble opinion, the best version of the PlayStation that has ever existed—especially the Pro. Let’s make the most of it, shall we?
So, first things first—let’s figure out which PlayStation 4 you have. There are technically three versions of the console at this point: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Slim, and PlayStation 4 Pro. Clearly you can look at the box and see which one you have, and the good news is that most of the things we’re going to talk about will apply to all three version, save for some of the Pro-exclusive features, which we’ll make note of.
Tweak Your System Settings
There are an absolute ton of little tweaks you can make to get a better overall experience from your system—everything from automatically turning on your TV when you turn on the console to taking faster screenshots. Here’s a short list of some of the best things to do—along with links that explain how to do them.
- Turn on your TV with the PS4
- Disable pop-up notifications while videos are playing
- Set the system up to take faster screenshots
- Transfer images to the system and set a custom wallpaper
- Use the DualShock 4 for gesture typing
- Learn how to quickly switch between running apps and games
- Add an external hard drive for even more storage
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—little tweaks that just make the system a little bit better.
Always Use Rest Mode
Rest Mode is one of the nicer things about the PlayStation 4, because it puts the system in an ultra low-power mode that gives it just enough juice to do things like download updates in the background.
Rest Mode also allows you to charge up the DualShock 4 controller directly from the PS4—a huge upgrade from the PS3, which didn’t allow controller charging while the console was asleep. What a silly omission.
If you want more info what Rest Mode is and what to expect from here, we have more information on that topic right here.
Manage Your Automatic Game and Update Downloads
You know what sucks? Sitting down to play a game and having the system tell you there’s an update. Sure, you can go ahead and start playing without downloading or installing said update (sometimes), but why bother when you can just keep everything up to date automatically?
Doing this will allow the system to pull system and game updates any time—even when it’s in rest mode. That way, you can always make sure your stuff is ready to go when you sit down to play.
But wait, it gets better: you can also buy games from your phone or PC and have them automatically download without ever touching your console. This is an awesome feature, because you can grab a new game on your lunch break at work and have it ready to play when you walk through the door that evening. No waiting.
To get either of these features to work, just make sure you set your PlayStation to always stay connected to the internet. That’s a pretty crucial step!
For Parents: Set Up Parental Controls
Look, it’s our job as parents to make sure our kids’ brains aren’t filled with stuff that kids’ brains shouldn’t be filled with. But I get it: you can’t constantly sit on top of them and watch every move they make, which is why the PlayStation 4 has parental controls.
These controls will allow you to restrict the type of content your child has access to, which includes games, Blu-ray movies, PlayStation VR access, and even use of the internet browser. Gotta keep little Eugene safe online!
Parental Controls get fairly granular, and we have a full guide on getting it all set up here. Have fun!
PlayStation 4 Pro: Turn on Boost Mode
Boost Mode is by far one of the best features of the PlayStation 4 Pro, as it basically allows games that the original PS4 struggled with to run better.
The Pro has a much faster GPU and RAM than its predecessor, which has issue running some newer titles that push the console to its limits. Boost Mode leverages the increased power found in the Pro to make these games run ultra smooth—in other words, it’s something you’re going to want to turn on.
The good news is that we have a much deeper explanation of Boost Mode, as well as how to enable it, right here. You’re welcome.
Subscribe to PlayStation Plus for Online Play and PlayStation Now for Game Streaming
Finally, Sony offers a couple of monthly subscription services you may want to take advantage of in PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now.
PlayStation Plus is Sony’s version of Xbox Live Gold, which allows for online gameplay—so, basically, if you want to hit up online gaming sessions with your homeboys, you’ll need this. But it also goes a step further by offering free game titles every month—you need only “purchase” these free titles to get instant access to them. You’ll also get discounts on other titles and DLCs. For example, Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (the game’s first DLC) was $15 for PlayStation Plus members, and $20 for everyone else.
The service itself will set you back $10 a month or $60 a year, but you can sometimes catch it on sale. Either way, the benefits are pretty much worth it.
There’s also PlayStation Now, which is the company’s online game streaming service that offers a back catalog of PlayStation 3 games. The cool thing here is that it’s not limited just the PlayStation console—you can also use PS Now on Windows. Yeah: you can stream PlayStation games to your PC. It’s awesome.
PlayStation Now will set you back $20 a month, and I’ll admit that it’s harder to justify this cost than PlayStation Plus. But if you are feeling all nostalgic for some old PS3 action, this is the only way to scratch that itch without digging out your old console.
Get All the Accessories You Need
There’s no shortage of accessories available for the PlayStation 4, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good—in fact, it can be a challenge to sort through the fluff and pick the things that are actually worth spending your hard-earned money on.
The good news is that we have an excellent roundup of all the best accessories available on our sister site, Review Geek. Seriously, go take a look at it—you’ll most certainly find some stuff you can’t live without.
Manage Your Friends and Online Status
You’re understandably going to want to add all your homeboys (and girls) to your PlayStation friends list. There’s actually a lot you can do with this, so here’s a collection of things you should probably know about, all of which will come in handy as you familiarize yourself with your new system:
- Set your online status for distraction free gaming
- Organize and create events for you and your friends
- Tag your friends in screenshots and share them on social networks
- Remove someone from your friends list
- Block someone because rude people shouldn’t have friends
When it comes down to it, there is no “best” console, but the PlayStation 4 Pro is my personal favorite, if only for the great PlayStation exclusive games. Speaking of: do yourself a favor and pick up The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.